The Tyne and Wear city of Sunderland was built on the back of shipbuilding and heavy industry in its heyday, indeed the docks still remain, although in a different capacity than that originally intended - you are now most likely to see high-class property in this area.
As the need for heavy industry in the region declined, Sunderland found new means of sustenance, welcoming hi-tech industries and financial institutions and even turning the vacant site of a coal-mine closed in the 90's into the impressive 48,000-seater Stadium of Light - home of Sunderland Athletic FC.
In terms of shopping, Sunderland has a host of retail to offer, with high-street names such as Debenhams, HMV and Gap in abundance within the city's 'Bridges' shopping centre - retail therapy is made all the easier by the local Metro system that covers the whole Tyne and Wear region.
As well as the extremely efficient Metro, the city is also home to the north's busiest bus terminus (second nationally only to Victoria Coach Station in London) which, aside from its immediate practical use, has been lauded for its modern design and architecture.
The city has a long cultural heritage - with past residents such as The Venerable Bede, James Herriot and Dave Stewart (the Eurythmics) - and that still flourishes: the City Library Arts Centre showcases all aspects of contemporary art in the region, the Sunderland Museum has a host of artifacts to view and the refurbished Sunderland Empire has recently re-opened to begin staging West-End shows for the first time.
Sunderland also plays host to one of the largest air-shows in Europe every year, attracting more than a million visitors who flock to see aircraft past and present performing along the local sea-front.